Rainwater is no longer drinkable anywhere on Earth due to the presence of perfluoroalkylated and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) produced by human activity that spread through the atmosphere and can now also be found in snow, including in the most remote places on Earth.
This is the conclusion reached by researchers from Stockholm University (Sweden) and ETH Zurich (Switzerland), who reviewed the new safety limits for these substances, such as cancer-causing PFAS, and compared them with atmospheric measurements. all over the world.
“Under the latest U.S. guidelines on PFAS in drinking water, rainwater from around the world would be considered unsafe to drink,” Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of California, said in a statement. Stockholm.
“Although we don’t often drink rainwater in the industrial world, many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink and to supply many of our drinking water sources,” Cousins said.
The Stockholm University team has carried out laboratory and field work on the occurrence and atmospheric transport of PFAS over the last decade. They found that the levels of some harmful PFAS in the atmosphere are not falling noticeably, even though their main manufacturer, 3M, phased them out two decades ago.
Jane Muncke, CEO of the Food Packaging Forum Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland, who was not involved in the research, concludes that it is unacceptable that “a few benefit financially while polluting the drinking water of millions of people.” For this reason, he claimed, the costs of reducing PFAS in the water “to levels that are safe (…) must be paid by the industry that produces and uses these toxic chemicals”